Flight Lieutenant (Pilot) 35222 Royal Air Force
Alfred Alexander was born in Burnley 25 April 1913. He married Marie Evelyn Chick at Grosvenor Road Methodist Church Aldershot 2 April 1938. He died 9 April 1940 at RAF Shawbury as a result of injuries received in a flying accident the previous day.
Alfred Alexander was educated in Ash and Guildford before joining the RAF in 1928. RAF records describe him as 5 feet 9 inches tall with light brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. As a Sgt and F/Sgt Pilot his performances were "superior", and this gained him a commission and entry to RAF Cranwell.
On the night of 8 April 1940 F/L Alexander was engaged on night flying instruction at No 11 Service Flying Training School based at RAF Shawbury. He was flying an Airspeed Oxford P1933. The accident occurred at 22.30 hours. At this time Alexander's aircraft had completed five successful takeoffs, three with his first pupil and two with Leading Aircraftman Houchin. On the sixth takeoff the plane was seen to strike an isolated oak tree some 150 yards from the northern edge of the airfield. This caused the aircraft to crash into Actonlea Coppice, with tragic results. F/L Alexander died from his injuries in the early hours of the following morning. LAC Houchin survived the crash only to be killed some six month later.
Alexander was probably doing what was known as "circuit and bumps", taking off, flying a circuit, landing and taking straight off. The RAF Court of Enquiry concluded that it was probable that the aircraft took off with its flaps down. To land an aircraft the wing flaps need to be down, but for take off they need to be up. The flaps on an Oxford were operated by hand winding them up and down.
During the War all servicemen were "on active service", wherever they were. Whether they were killed in action or in a flying accident at home they were all commemorated in the same way. Although Alfred Alexander was not remembered on the Ash War Memorial in the years immediately following the end of the War, this omission has been corrected and his name now appears on the Ash War Memorial.
There are notes about Alfred Alexander's career in the RAF and a photocopy of his Service Record in the History Room (470/-).
Contributed by Norman Ratcliffe